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December 13, 2013

Nick Saban agrees to raise, extension

Nick Saban is staying at the University of Alabama, just like he said all along.

Saban reached an agreement Friday that is expected to raise his salary to between $7 and $7.5 million per year from its current annual compensation of almost $5.4 million and extend his term as head football coach of the Crimson Tide, Tidesports.com has learned.

"We are very pleased to have this agreement completed," Saban said in a statement released Friday night by UA. "(Wife) Terry and our family are very happy in Tuscaloosa. It has become home to us. This agreement allows us to continue to build on the tremendous success that we have enjoyed to this point - successes that have transcended the football field. We are excited about the future and the University of Alabama is where I plan to end my coaching career.

"We are committed to continuing the work that we have been doing in the community as well as at the university. We are also excited about the opportunity awaiting us on Jan. 2 in the Allstate Sugar Bowl against the University of Oklahoma and hope to send this year's tremendous senior class out in the proper way."

The agreement ends speculation that intensified in recent days that Saban might emerge as a candidate at Texas after reports that Mack Brown would step down after 16 years. Brown, incidentally, is still head coach at Texas and was at the team's banquet Friday night.

In truth, however, UA athletic director Bill Battle began the process to reach a new deal with Saban sometime before the Nov. 30 Iron Bowl, where then-No. 1 Alabama fell out of the national championship race with a loss to rival Auburn.

"Coach Saban is the best in the business and has led our program to the pinnacle of college football. This agreement is a strong indication of our mutual commitment to building on the foundation he has established," Battle said in a statement.

The idea that Texas would target Saban to replace Brown, should he retire, began to gain steam after reports surfaced in September that Texas regent Wallace Hall and former regent Tom Hicks had approached Saban's agent, Jimmy Sexton, in January after Saban won his third national championship at Alabama - and his fourth overall, counting one at LSU - to gauge the coach's interest in leaving UA for Texas. Saban, 62, responded by saying repeatedly that he remained committed to Alabama and said after the Crimson Tide's victory over Tennessee that he was "too damn old to go someplace else and start all over."

Since the Iron Bowl, Saban has been burning up the trail to try to enhance a class of committed prospects already ranked No. 1 nationally by Rivals.com. On Wednesday, Saban visited five-star cornerback Tony Brown from Beaumont, Texas, and UA commitment Zach Whitley, a Rivals 100 linebacker from just outside the Houston area. On Thurday, he visited New Orleans five-star prospect Leonard Fournette, the nation's No. 1 running back, and made a swing through Georgia to visit the nation's top linebacker prospect, Raekwon McMillan, a five-star prospect who is set to announce his college choice at 11:30 a.m. Monday. Saban also visited with West Palm Beach, Fla., four-star receiver Johnnie Dixon on Thursday.

The Alabama coaching staff has lined up around 10 four- and five-star prospects to make on-campus official visits this weekend, including Fournette and Hoover High five-star cornerback Marlon Humphrey. The new deal, which must be certified by UA's board of trustees, will put Saban in an elite group of football coaches making at least $7 million annually, with all of the others coaching in the National Football League. According to Forbes.com, Sean Payton (New Orleans Saints), Bill Belichick (New England Patriots), Jeff Fisher (St. Louis Rams), Andy Reid (Kansas City Chiefs) and Mike Shanahan (Washington Redskins) are the only football coaches making $7 million or more.

Saban was already the highest-paid coach in college football with a $5,395,852 salary and maximum bonuses of $700,000. Texas' Brown makes $5,392,500 per season, with possible bonuses of $850,000. Saban's current contract expires in 2019.

Saban's new contract marks the fourth time his original eight-year contract has been extended since he arrived at Alabama in January 2007.

He shocked the college football world when he left the Miami Dolphins of the NFL to sign a $4 million a year with UA, at the time the highest salary ever paid to a college head coach.

Just before the 2009 season, Saban signed a three-year extension to his original deal, locking him up through the 2017 season, bumping his salary to an average of about $4.75 million. The life of the deal, through 2017, was worth about $43.25 million.

After his first two years, Saban had gone 19-8 including a perfect 12-0 regular season in 2008. Saban won several national coach of the year awards for the 2008 season.

Saban next signed a two-year contract that extended his deal through the 2019 season. Not including bonuses, Saban's total compensation was set at more than $5.3 million for 2012, with the final year of the contract paying Saban more than $5.96 million in 2019. Incremental annual increases in Saban's pay average $5.62 million per year over the full term of the new contract.

The total value of Saban's contract over the next eight seasons was $44,983,333.36 before the current renegotiation.

UA President Judy Bonner and Robert Witt, chancellor of the UA system, also released statements. "The entire University of Alabama family is thrilled that Coach Nick Saban will continue to be the head coach of the Crimson Tide," Bonner said. "We appreciate the commitment that he and Terry have to our players and their success on the field, in the classroom and throughout their lives. Coach Saban's passion for excellence combined with his hard work and integrity are hallmarks of his teams, who are champions in every way."

Witt called Saban, "the finest football coach in our country" and echoed Saban's sentiment that the new deal will keep the coach at UA for the rest of his career.

Tommy Deas, Andrew Bone and D.C. Reeves contributed to this report.



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